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Goalkeepers Will Hate This! Football Lawmakers Trial Major Rule Change

Football Lawmakers to make the rule change: When you’re deep in the throes of a football match, there’s nothing quite as aggravating as witnessing a goalkeeper clutch onto the ball, stubbornly refusing to let it go as precious seconds slip away. This all too familiar sight of time-wasting has plagued the game for years, with goalkeepers adeptly exploiting rule ambiguities to stall and safeguard their team’s advantage. Yet, amidst mounting frustration, a glimmer of hope emerges as details surface about an upcoming trial poised to tackle this issue head-on. These developments hint at a potential revolution in how such antics are dealt with on the field.

The Problem with Time-Wasting Goalkeepers

The frustration of being behind in a match, only to witness the opposing goalkeeper clinging onto the ball for an eternity, is a feeling shared by fans and players alike. Current regulations allow goalkeepers to hold onto the ball for six seconds before being required to release it, under the threat of conceding an indirect free-kick. However, lax enforcement has permitted goalkeepers to exceed this time limit with impunity, sometimes holding onto the ball for upwards of 20 seconds.

Football Lawmakers Proposed Trial

In response to mounting frustration and calls for action, football lawmakers have proposed a trial aimed at addressing time-wasting by goalkeepers. Under the trial, goalkeepers will be granted eight seconds to hold onto the ball, an increase from the current six-second limit. However, should they exceed this time limit, stricter penalties will be enforced by the referee.

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Stricter Enforcement and Punishments

One of the key challenges in addressing time-wasting by goalkeepers has been the reluctance of referees to penalize such behaviour due to concerns over the severity of the punishment. Currently, exceeding the time limit results in an indirect free-kick for the opposing team, often within scoring range. However, under the proposed trial, the punishment will be adjusted to award a corner kick or throw-in to the opposition, presenting a less severe yet still consequential penalty.

Trial Implementation and Scope

The trial is set to be implemented outside of the top two divisions in any given country, including ‘A’-level international fixtures, to gauge its effectiveness and feasibility. This means that leagues such as England’s League One will be the highest tier where the trial will be tested. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will monitor the results of the trial during the 2025 season, with the potential for permanent implementation in the 2026/27 season.

Referee Protocol and Yellow Card Enforcement

To ensure consistent application of the new rule, referees will be tasked with counting down from eight seconds when the goalkeeper is in clear control of the ball. A visual countdown will be indicated by the referee raising their hand to signal five seconds remaining. Should a goalkeeper exceed the eight-second limit, they will receive a warning for the first instance. Subsequent violations will result in the brandishing of a yellow card, signalling a more severe consequence for continued time-wasting.

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Potential Impact on the Premier League

While the trial will initially be limited to lower divisions and international fixtures, there is the possibility of its adoption in the Premier League for the 2026/27 season and beyond. The IFAB believes that the proposed changes have the potential to effectively eliminate time-wasting by goalkeepers, thereby enhancing the integrity and flow of the game.

The proposed trial aimed at addressing time-wasting by goalkeepers represents a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to uphold fairness and sportsmanship in football. By adjusting regulations and enforcing stricter penalties, football lawmakers hope to curb this detrimental behaviour and ensure a more dynamic and engaging experience for players and fans alike. As the trial unfolds and its impact is assessed, the footballing world eagerly awaits the potential for permanent change in the seasons to come.


  1. What is the trial rule change for goalkeepers in football?

    The trial rule change allows goalkeepers to hold the ball for eight seconds instead of six before facing stricter penalties for time-wasting.

  2. Will the Football Premier League adopt the rule change?

    There is a possibility of the Premier League adopting the rule change for the 2026/27 season and beyond, pending the results of the trial.

  3. How will referees enforce the new rule in football?

    Referees will count down from eight seconds when the goalkeeper is in clear control of the ball, raising their hand to signal five seconds remaining before penalties are enforced.

  4. What are the potential punishments for goalkeepers who exceed the time limit?

    If goalkeepers exceed the eight-second limit, they will receive a warning for the first instance, followed by a yellow card for subsequent violations

  5. When will the trial of the rule change for goalkeepers take place?

    The trial is scheduled to occur outside of the top two divisions in any given country, with the results being considered by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in October and November 2025.


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